We adopted a 10 yr old malamute mix 2 yrs ago. In every other way she is a perfect pet and we love her dearly but her fear of thunder (and firecrackers and gun shots) is getting worse. She used to hide in the basement during a thunder storm and that was OK, they don't last that long. I thought as she became more secure with her surroundings and us the fear would abate but recently she has expanded her fear to being afraid of rain and even cloudy days, this is after a string of late day thunderstorms.

She won't leave out of the house in the late afternoon though I know she must have to go. I feel so sorry for her and have no idea what to do about it. I took her in the car yesterday afternoon to an area not far from our house and that seems OK, I guess she figures there was no thunder there, who knows. I can't take her for a ride every day that's for sure and I miss our long walks after dinner.
Can anyone help me and my pupster?
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Can anyone help me and my pupster?

How do you react to thunderstorms and loud noises?

My first dog was very sensitive to thunder and it took a lot of time to desensitize her to the point that she wouldn't hide in the basement and void her bowels when I wasn't home.

My current two dogs are fine with thunder and lightening, though where I live it can come on suddenly and, caught unawares, it's difficult not to flinch when the boomer comes out of nowhere. It's important to ensure that you're not inadvertantly signalling your discomfort to your dog.
On a different level, you may be getting anxious because you believe she will get nervous and she builds off of that.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
Sue, you are facing one of the most difficult challenges. It's common for the fear to increase and one event be 'chained' to another until the dog is panicking at things you're not even aware of. How much time are you able to spend with her? Densensitization, as Matt accomplished, takes a good deal of time and alertness to anticipate and distract before the dog goes out of control.
I wonder if I'm doing the right thing with Cubbe. She's normally fearless on her own territory which is where she spends most of her time. Unlike the typical dog that follows her person around the house, Cubbe hangs out on the living room couch or at the bottom of the basement stairs, places that are comfortable for the weather. I'd sometimes prefer it if she slept by my feet like a normal dog, but no.

That is unless there's thunder in the distance and a storm in the air. Then she lies down behind the chair in the computer room while I'm seated at the computer. She doesn't cry or pant or show any sign of stress. She's just there. This is not forbidden behavior by a long shot. She might press herself against the legs of the chair making it hard to adjust, but I like her there.
The only trouble is that I know she does it when she's reacting to the storm. I can't imagine discouraging a behavior I rather like and that she's allowed to do, but I don't want to reward behavior that has fear at its root. Am I rewarding her by letting her lie there? I'm not praising or coddling in any way. The most she gets is the same pat she gets any other time I'm walking by her.
Lia
Am I rewarding her by letting her lie there? I'm not praising or coddling in any way. The most she gets is the same pat she gets any other time I'm walking by her.

Lia
Lordy, Lia, don't mess with success. Have you been with a dog in a full panic attack? That awful feeling of its experiencing a suffering you can't relieve.
Cubbe seems to have found her own solution. We're read that some dogs, annoyed and alerted by the change in ionization of an appoaching storm. repair to the bathroom to jump into the bathtub or curl around some plumbing in order to ground themselves.
Sue's dog (what's her name, Sue?) seems to have progressed to the point where any lound noise affects her.
My brother's first dog used to panic at thunder, firecrackers and gunshots. This was in Miami where thunder has always been common, and firecrackers are more common than they are here, and gunshots, well, gunshots. He never tranquilized Thurber either because it was so long ago the drugs weren't commonly prescribed or because we know how we feel on tranqs in our family. Everybody hates them. It's bad enough being scared, but being scared and too groggy to think straight or react is horrible. In any case, Thurber used to slither under the bed and shake. No amount of cajoling could bring him out. We didn't know about training or desensitizing.
Cubbe is so unconventionally undemonstrative of emotions that I've been afraid the lying next to the chair is really Cubbe-speak for terror or the beginning symptoms of building terror. I'm wondering if I should be getting up for a ball and biscuit session during these times, some way of giving her some fun to let her know that fun and thunder can go together. On the other hand, she's so smartly manipulative that I could imagine her using the chair move as a way of saying it's ball and biscuit time. I'd never get computer work done. Worse, I'd be rewarding a mild symptom and making it worse.
I'm sure you're right. Lying by the chair is fine.
Lia
Lia
where I live it can come on suddenly and, caught ... that you're not inadvertantly signalling your discomfort to your dog.

Are these events that unpredicable where you are?

The thunderstorms are usually predicted, but when they hit, they can hit fast. They also travel quickly - a distant thunderclap may be followed up with the next one right over my house.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
Cubbe is so unconventionally undemonstrative of emotions that I've been afraid the lying next to the chair is really Cubbe-speak ... and biscuit time. I'd never get computer work done. Worse, I'd be rewarding a mild symptom and making it worse.

I'd play it safe and go with your last sentence above. Meanwhile, as I know you are, keep your eyes open for escalating symptoms.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
The only trouble is that I know she does it when she's reacting to the storm. I can't imagine discouraging ... in any way. The most she gets is the same pat she gets any other time I'm walking by her.[/nq]FWIW,this is precisely what Mojo does,and what you do is precisely what I do.(This now encompasses Luke during a big T-storm,btw.) I figure he feels comfort being near me during these occasions and it keeps him relatively calm.Like you,I don't coddle him but give him an occasinal pat on the head or speak to him in a normal tone of voice. I believe,(with no scientific proof other than observation) that seeing me calm and nonchalant helps him a great deal.

If I get up,he follows me,but this contact with me seems to soothe him better than if I weren't there.If I'm not there,he transfers this to Paul.Oh he pants a lot,and moves his ears like antenneas when there's a particularly loud clap,but all in all,I don't see a problem with letting Cubbe do what she's currently doing. He's 8 years old now,and his fear hasn't escalated yet.If anything, he's gotten better in that he no longer jumps up,running around looking for a place to hide.
Terri
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